Following on from the sights and sounds of Bloodstock Open Air Festival’s first day, we’re straight into the action on day two.
After another soggy night out at the campsite it’s up to Canadian hardcore heavy hitters Cancer Bats (8) to wake everyone up and get things going on Saturday morning and they absolutely smash it. A cheeky cover or two in the form of Sabotage and War Pigs definitely helps keep things interesting and even though they’re one of the few Hardcore acts on the lineup this weekend, they prove they can still slay with the best of them. Laying down a gauntlet for every band that has to follow them today!
Finnish Death-Doom Maestros Swallow The Sun (8) deliver a short but stunningly progressive set on the Ronnie James Dio stage negotiating the awkward lunchtime slot with conviction. Showcasing songs from 2019’s When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light include the title track alongside Firelights, Stone Wings and Upon The Water, the band delivered what can only be described as a masterclass in blending tones and moods – which rather fittingly matched the indecisive weather on the main stage. Effortlessly classy and well-received all around.
After a hearty breakfast of hardcore punk, Rock Sins heads over to the Sophie Lancaster Stage for Lotus Eater (6). Their live sound lacks the polish of some of their deathcore contemporaries, with more of the more intricate guitar parts being lost in the mix. However for everything they lack in subtlety, the Glaswegians more than make up for it with enthusiasm, providing an entertaining and brutal onslaught of technical metal.
Evil Scarecrow (8) are up next and they know exactly how to handle a festival crowd. Despite looking like villains from a horror movie, Evil Scarecrow are probably the most family friendly act of the weekend, providing plenty of laughs. Personally I’ve never seen thousands of metalheads crab walking around the main stage at Bloodstock making fart noises before, but as Scarecrow close their stellar set with Crabulon I can safely tick that off my bucket list!
Time for something a little more serious now as Thy Art Is Murder (9) take to the stage. Sticking mostly to material off their latest record, the Aussie deathcore outfit sound absolutely fantastic and easily set a record for the most crowd surfers this weekend with a spectacularly heavy rendition of Human Target that sends nearly 150 bodies over the barrier into the waiting arms of festival security.
Ginger and The Wildhearts (8) really have their work cut out for them after such a brilliant show from Thy Art Is Murder and to their credit they do their best. Cranking their amps to eleven and giving it their all. This isn’t their crowd though and it’s only Vanilla Radio that really gets the reaction they deserve.
Norwegian Power Metal outfit Guardians Of Time (7) may have been around for two decades but only now have they finally graced UK shores. Norway has contributed some of the genres most talented vocalists in the form of mega giants Roy Khan (Conception, Ex-Kamelot) and Jorn Lande (Masterplan) which means our expectations are pretty high, to say the least, and Bernt Fjellestad and bandmates certainly don’t disappoint. Fjellstad frankly has lungs of steel and is backed up with thrillingly technical guitar squeals and clever drum fills. On the Power Metal spectrum (if such a thing exists) they fall more into the old school Helloween and Blind Guardian school of power metal. And you know what? The growing crowd on the Sophie stage absolutely loves it.
With Cradle of Filth’s slot on the main stage cancelled due to high winds and leaving the crowd restless. Thrash metal giants Anthrax (9) really have their work cut out for them when the main stage is finally reopened for business. They don’t waste a second of their shortened set either. They whip the crowd into a frenzy early on with Caught in a Mosh and follow it up with hit after hit – Got The Time, Wardance, Anti-social… By the time Anthrax are walking off stage it’s clear that against all the odds they’ve been victorious this evening.
Speaking of victorious, it’s time for Saturdays headliner Parkway Drive (10) to prove they’ve got what it takes on their first outing headlining Bloodstock, and boy do they deliver. Bass player Jia O’connor might be confined to a wheelchair, but the Aussie metalcore titans still put on the defining performance of the weekend. Their stage production is impeccable too, bringing their own string quartet and enough pyro gear to make Kiss break a sweat.
Earlier songs like “Carrion” are notable by their absence, however sticking mostly to material from Reverence proves an intelligent decision for the festival audience. It’s a record that provides the perfect mix of anthemic singalong choruses and neck snapping riffs and one that’s accessible for first time listeners and hardcore fans alike. If they carry on putting on shows like this, it’s not hard to see Parkway Drive filling a stadium near you in the not too distant future!
Stay tuned for the final part of Rock Sins’ Bloodstock Festival 2019 coverage very soon!
Words by Hank Layland except Swallow The Sun and Guardians Of Time by Claire Frays. All photos by Matt Higgs.